Fortnum & Mason is a symbol of everything British. The first store in Britain to stock baked beans and the provider of ‘basics’ such as tea and jam to the gentry as well as the provider of luxurious picnic baskets. Can it get more English?
On Friday I took my Mum to Fortnums for afternoon tea for her birthday. We arrived a little early and wondered around the “tea and jam” floor before heading up to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon. We were shortly seated at a spacious table with rather comfy chairs and made ourselves comfortable for the next two hours with the sounds of a gentleman playing on a piano. The decor is suitably ‘tea room’ with accents of Tiffany blue (which appear to be F&M blue too) and several pictures of Audrey Hepburn hanging around. They know their clientele (which appeared to be 95% women and a high number of elder ladies and tourists).
There is a massive selection of teas (I think around 85), Mum went for the standard breakfast and I had the black tea with peach which was delicious. Having advised when booking that we were vegetarian we were provided with the vegetarian menu on seating and went ahead with it. There was a good selection of sandwiches; along with the standard egg cress and cucumber there was also one with artichoke, a sort of Mediterranean sandwich with pesto and sundried tomatoes and an open cheese and chutney one. All the breads were different which I thought was a nice touch.
We then had two scone each – plain and raisin. We opted for the lemon curd instead of jam which was absolutely delicious and I think I might go back and just buy a tub of their lemon curd. The clotted cream was also amazingly thick (I could feel my arteries as I ate it).
The top tier of the cake-stand was full of a selection of little cakes, some twists on classics (like a bakewell tart). There was also a cake stand with ‘cakes of the day’ although I didn’t try any of those.
Throughout the tea we were asked if we wanted more. We really should have taken them up on the offer as it was a very pricey £40 a head (plus they charged 12.5% service on top of that which I do think was rather cheeky) but it was pretty filling. This is certainly a special occasion sort of outing but for a rare visit to sit in a piece of London history I would say it is worth the expense. Not sure I would make a return visit (what with Claridges and the Ritz on the list) but definitely happy I went.
Where is the best afternoon tea you have been? I’d love to know where I should head next.
(bottom pictures from camera phone)